Happy Monday! I’m excited to welcome back friend and fellow author Staci Troilo talking about her latest novella, Gamble. This is the second book in her Nightforce Security Series and released last Friday. She’s been a busy lady so far this year! Staci, it’s always a pleasure to host you. Take it away…
Hi, everybody. I’m really glad to be here today. Thanks for spending some time with me.
If you listen to actors give interviews, you find they appreciate the love they get when they play the hero, but they really love to sink their teeth into the villain. There’s something sadistically delicious about playing a bad guy. Maybe it’s because they get to say and do things we can’t do in real life, filling a subconscious need. (Or maybe that’s just my reason for liking them. And no, I’m not claiming to have fantasies of being a serial killer.)
For the same reasons actors like to play villains, authors like to write them.
In a novella, I think it’s hard to craft someone as layered and twisted as Hannibal Lecter or Annie Wilkes. That kind of depravity takes hundreds of pages. So, what’s a writer to do if she’s writing a short novella rather than a long novel in the thriller genre (known for fast-paced, plot-driven fiction)? I solved that problem with two solutions:
- focus on a single motivation (greed)
- created a gang rather than a single antagonist
The first point is easy. In my novels, I have characters who are multi-layered and psychologically complex. They consider their actions through exhaustive thought processes and concoct intricate schemes. In a novella, there isn’t time for that. So I picked one motivation, and I didn’t focus so much on the impetus as I did on the plan they hatched.
Yes, I said ‘they’ with respect to the villain. Or villains, in this case. It probably seems counter intuitive to have more people instead of fewer in a novella. I’m already claiming that low word counts make it hard to flush out a villain, and now I’m adding villains? Bear with me; I promise it makes sense. I created a gang that operates as one entity. So there’s really only one villain, it’s just multi-faceted. Each criminal provides a single characteristic of a complex antagonist. Because Gamble takes place in a casino (bet you didn’t see that coming), it seemed appropriate to give them names associated with playing cards. I’ll admit, I was thinking about the 1960s Batman television show where the henchmen had theme-centric names. (Catwoman had two male thugs named Felix and Leo and two female associates named Kitty and Cattie.) It was not only fun naming my villains, their names also help reveal their rank in the criminal hierarchy. And their position helped determine what they brought to the collective ‘villain’ entity. For example—Ace was in charge, Joker was wild, Deuce was definitely not the mastermind but rather just helped where he could (although he wasn’t always helpful). You get the idea.
So, there you have it. Motivation and a collective entity helped create the antagonist(s) in Gamble. It was a new and exciting experience for me, writing a gang instead of a single bad guy. And because there were a lot of them, there was opportunity for some fun interactions. If I were an actor, I’d enjoy playing any of these villains.
Blurb for Gamble:
Sometimes stakes are too high to gamble. Other times they’re too high not to.
Noah Crawford is a consummate bachelor—until a one-night stand piques his interest in something more. The only problem is, she wouldn’t give him her name, and he has no way to find her.
A week later, resigned to forgetting her, he accompanies his friends to a casino. Floor traffic promises to be light while everyone clusters at the sportsbook for the college basketball championship game. But Noah isn’t in the mood for frivolity and sets off on his own. No one is more surprised than he is when he bumps into his mystery woman.
He’s playing a far different game than cards when armed criminals take over the poker room. Noah is separated from his friends, and somehow the room has been cut off from security. Help isn’t coming. It’s up to him to keep everyone safe while he tries to thwart the gunmen.
Noah quickly realizes he’s trying to prevent more than a simple heist. And he doesn’t know who he can trust. The stakes have never been higher, and he’s all in. But one of the thieves might have an ace up his sleeve, and that could cost Noah everything.
Staci Troilo writes because she has hundreds of stories in her head. She publishes because people told her she should share them. She’s a multi-genre author whose love for writing is only surpassed by her love for family and friends, and that relationship-centric focus is featured in her work.